How to Get Children with Autism to Stop Throwing Temper Tantrums
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Tantrums in children with autism are often caused by frustration or sensory overload.

Tantrums are behaviors commonly seen in children with autism. Before screaming at your child, punishing him, or pulling your hair out, consider a few alternatives to put an end to the tantrum or prevent them from happening at all. Tantrums, often called “meltdowns” for children with autism, are typically caused when your toddler doesn’t get what he wants or if he is overstimulated.


  1. 1
    Model appropriate behavior when you can’t prevent a tantrum from starting. This means that you shouldn’t yell, run around the room, or spank your child with autism. Instead, stay calm and take a deep breath. Talk to your child in a firm but soothing voice.
  2. 2
    Give hugs or use a favorite toy or weighted blanket to help soothe your toddler. It might take a while for you to figure out the magic trick for calming your child down, but once you find it, use it. Weighted blankets provide pressure that children with autism find comforting because it helps their muscles and brains comprehend their tactile experiences and improves body awareness.
  3. 3
    Avoid giving in to your toddler’s demands just to keep him quiet. It might be awfully tempting to give your kid the cookie even though you said no. Your toddler with autism might not comprehend why you told him no, which is incredibly frustrating to him. Once he calms down, talk about the situation and help him understand his emotions and why you said no to his request. You can validate your child by saying, “You were upset because I didn’t give you a cookie. That must be frustrating.” You might want to add a detail, such as, “We don’t eat cookies right before dinner, remember?” This response helps teach your child why you didn’t give him what he wanted.
  4. 4
    Distract your toddler or preschooler with the counting procedure, which puts the focus away from the intense emotions he feels right before a tantrum. Say “no crying” and begin counting to 10 -- you can even encourage your kid to count with you. If he starts crying again, say “no crying” again and start counting over. When your child stops crying for a full count to 10, he will likely be calmer.
  5. 5
    Ignore the tantrum. This trick is easier said than done, but it teaches your child with autism that tantrums are unacceptable and inappropriate behavior. You must completely ignore the tantrum, which means no looking at, talking to, or correcting your child until the tantrum is over. When your child does stop his tantrum and sits quietly, praise this appropriate behavior with a specific sentence, such as, “I like how you’re sitting so quietly!” Do not ignore a tantrum if your child is in danger of hurting himself or others around him.
  6. 6
    Avoid the things that trigger your child's tantrums to prevent them. If your child with autism frequently tantrums after hearing a noise or seeing something he doesn’t like, it’s likely due to a sensory overload issue.
  7. 7
    Keep a routine and structure to daily activities. Kids with autism thrive on this structure, but be careful -- once you break the routine, they are likely to throw a fit. Give your child plenty of notice for a change, and remind him during different intervals throughout the day. Use visual aids when possible; if you’re going to a doctor’s office, show your child pictures of the office and the doctor.
  8. 8
    Give positive reinforcement often. When your toddler with autism is playing quietly or following directions, give lots of praise, whether it be a sentence, a hug or a cracker. This method helps your child understand appropriate behaviors.


  • Contact your child's physician if you're concerned about your child's tantrums, or if they continue past age 4. If your child frequently displays self-injurious behavior, such as head banging, or if he tries to hurt you or other people, talk to your doctor, who might recommend medical treatment.

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